How to do CPU Delidding and Is it Worth the Risk?

Delidding is removing the integrated heat spreader (IHS) from the top of a CPU to replace the thermal interface material (TIM) between the IHS and the CPU die with a better-performing compound or to replace the CPU die itself.

While delidding can result in improved thermal performance and potentially better overclocking capabilities, there are also potential risks and downsides to consider. In this context, weighing the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to delid your CPU is essential. Therefore, we will provide the safest way to delid your CPU. 

Pros of CPU Delidding

The potential benefits of delidding a CPU include:

  1. Improved cooling performance: By removing the IHS and replacing the thermal paste, it is possible to achieve better heat dissipation from the CPU, which can result in lower temperatures and better performance.
  2. Better overclocking potential: Overclocking a CPU involves pushing it beyond its factory-set clock speed for better performance. Delidding can help achieve higher overclocks, as lower temperatures allow the CPU to run more stable at higher clock speeds.
  3. Reduced thermal throttling: Some CPUs can throttle their performance to prevent overheating, leading to reduced performance. Delidding can help to reduce thermal throttling by improving heat dissipation and keeping the CPU cooler.
  4. Improved longevity: Lower temperatures can also help to enhance the longevity of the CPU by reducing the wear and tear on the processor caused by high temperatures.
  5. Improved power efficiency: By reducing the thermal load on the CPU, it might be possible to achieve better power efficiency, which can result in lower energy consumption and electricity bills.
  6. Better noise levels: Lower temperatures can also help to reduce the noise levels of the CPU cooling system, which can be particularly beneficial for people who prioritize a quiet PC.
  7. Greater control over thermal management: Delidding can provide greater control over the thermal management of the CPU, allowing for more precise tuning of the cooling solution to achieve the desired balance of performance and heat dissipation.

It should be noted that the benefits of delidding a CPU will vary depending on the specific CPU model, cooling solution, and overall system configuration.

CPU Delidding

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Cons of CPU Delidding

While delidding can offer some benefits, there are also several cons to consider

  1. Voiding the Warranty: Delidding a CPU almost always voids the warranty of the CPU, which means that if anything goes wrong, you won’t be able to get it repaired or replaced by the manufacturer.
  2. Potential Damage to the CPU: There is always a risk of damaging the CPU while delidding it, which could result in permanent damage or even render it completely useless.
  3. Time Consuming and Tedious: Delidding a CPU requires a lot of patience, skill, and time. It’s a tedious process that can take several hours, and it’s common for people to make mistakes or encounter difficulties.
  4. Potential for Poor Performance: If you don’t reattach the IHS and CPU correctly or apply too much or too little thermal paste, you could have poor performance or even damage your CPU.
  5. Increased Maintenance: Once you’ve delidded your CPU, you may need to maintain it more frequently to ensure it stays cool and runs at optimal performance levels. This can be time-consuming and may require additional hardware or software tools.
  6. May not provide significant benefits: While delidding can improve CPU temperatures and performance, the benefits may not be substantial enough to justify the risks and effort. In some cases, you may only see a few degrees Celsius improvement, which may not make a noticeable difference in overall performance.
  7. May not be necessary: Modern CPUs are designed to handle high temperatures, and most users won’t experience any issues with stock cooling. Unless you’re pushing your CPU to the limit with overclocking or other demanding tasks, you may not need to delid your CPU.

How to Delid the CPU?

If you are determined to delid the CPU, we suggest that you collect some necessary items before proceeding:

  • A delidding tool
  • Thermal paste
  • Silicone adhesive
  • 99% pure isopropyl alcohol
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Nail polish (optional)Required tools

Additionally, we advise you to check the CPU temperatures beforehand, which is often overlooked by many individuals. Doing so will help avoid the inconvenience of estimating the temperature improvement later.

Prepare the Workstation

Before starting:

  1. Ensure that your workstation is clean and level. 
  2. To avoid any unintended spills, wear gloves and eye protection for your safety.Gloves and glasses
  3. Make sure the CPU is not attached to any motherboard or other components.

Detach the CPU from the Motherboard

To make the sealant more pliable and facilitate the delidding process, one can increase the CPU usage and heat it to 80°C or higher. The steps are:

  1. Power off the PC and disconnect all power cables.
  2. Removing the motherboard from the case can make the process easier, but you can lay the claim on its side if that’s tough.
  3. Detach all fan cables and screws and remove the CPU cooler.
  4. Release the latch by pressing down on the lever.
  5. Carefully remove the CPU from the socket.

Separate IHS from the CPU

The subsequent step involves separating the IHS from the CPU. Although some people have used razor blades to do this, we strongly advise against it. It is not worth damaging your CPU to save a few dollars. Luckily, several affordable options are available. The steps are:

  1. Insert the CPU into the delidding tool and align the triangle on the CPU and the tool accurately.Seperate IHS from CPU
  2. Turn the screw by hand until it can no longer be turned, then switch to the Allen key.
  3. As you keep turning the Allen key, it may become increasingly difficult. This is normal. While maintaining a close eye on the CPU, continue turning until you hear a click sound or notice the IHS move slightly.
  4. Unscrew the bolt and remove the CPU from the tool. Carefully separate the IHS from the CPU.

Clean Old Thermal Paste and Reapply

Congratulations! You have successfully deleted your CPU. Your next task is to remove the old thermal compound and apply a new one. While you can use traditional thermal paste, we suggest using a liquid metal thermal compound for optimal performance. Here are the step-by-step instructions for this process:

  1. Place the CPU and IHS on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth and isopropyl alcohol solution to gently clean off the old thermal compound from the IHS and CPU.Cleaning Heatsink
  3. Use a blunt blade or a credit card to scrape off the adhesive from the CPU and IHS. Be cautious not to damage the PCB while doing so.
  4. Once the surface is clean, let it dry for a few hours.
  5. Optional: To maximize your CPU delidding, you can lap the IHS and Cooler.
  6. Now it’s time to apply the new thermal compound. In some cases, the gold-plated caps on the processor may be in close proximity to the CPU die. If this is the case, use an insulating material to safeguard them from being shorted out if they come into contact with the thermal compound. We used a tiny amount of nail polish in our situation.
  7. Apply a tiny amount of thermal compound to the center of the CPU die.Applying Thermal Paste
  8. Carefully use the thermal compound spreader to distribute the compound evenly across the surface. If you’re using liquid metal, take extra care to avoid spilling it beyond the die.
  9. Apply the same amount of thermal compound to the IHS and spread it evenly using the thermal compound spreader. Be careful not to apply too much, and avoid creating a rectangle that is too large, as you do not want to harm the PCB.
  10. Finally, reapply the silicone adhesive as it was previously placed.

Reattach the Components

There are two different methods for reattaching the CPU and IHS after delidding. First, some people insert the CPU back into the socket, attach the IHS without glue, and rely on the CPU socket latch to hold it. However, the second, more commonly used approach involves the following steps:

  1. If you haven’t already, reapply the glue to the IHS in the same pattern. 
  2. Place the CPU back into the delidding tool to help keep it in place. 
  3. Carefully place the IHS back on the CPU, aligning the thermal compound coating with the Die. Take Off the fan and heatsink
  4. Adjust the positioning slightly if necessary, and use the clamp mechanism to press them together lightly. 
  5. Let the glue set in for a few hours, then reinsert the CPU into the socket. 
  6. Remove any remaining thermal paste from the cooler and IHS surfaces and apply a pea-sized amount to the center of the IHS. 
  7. Reattach the cooler with all the screws and cables. Heatsink plugging in
  8. Finally, reattach all power cables, and turn on your PC.

Check the Results

Any hardware monitoring or benchmarking tool can check your CPU temperature. Use it to monitor the difference. 

Is It Worth It to Delid the CPU?

Delidding the CPU can provide benefits such as improved thermal performance, leading to higher overclocking potential and reduced risk of thermal throttling. However, delidding carries risks and requires skill and specialized tools. It can also void the CPU warranty and potentially damage the CPU if done improperly. So, whether or not it’s worth it to delid the CPU depends on individual preferences and priorities. For example, it may be worth it if you are experienced and comfortable with delidding and prioritizing improved thermal performance and overclocking potential. On the other hand, if you are not confident in your ability or want to avoid damaging the CPU, it may not be worth it. Therefore, it’s essential to weigh the risks and benefits before deciding.

Can all CPUs be delidded? 

Not all CPUs can be delidded; some have the IHS soldered directly to the CPU.

Is delidding a CPU worth it for gaming?

Delidding a CPU can provide better temperature control, improving overclocking and gaming performance. However, the benefits may only be significant for some users.

Can delidding a CPU improve its lifespan? 

Delidding a CPU does not necessarily improve its lifespan but can also increase the risk of damage or failure.

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